Fred Hering

Fred Hering

Fred Hering

If you lived in the Seattle suburb of Bothell any time in the past 30 years, you knew Fred Hering.  If not the man himself, the real estate guy who had his office right there on 522.  Coming into Bothell, you’d see that sign, “Bothell–For a day or a lifetime” and then you’d pass the reader board out in front of Fred’s company, Hering & Associates.

I found out this morning that Fred passed away this week. The announcement was made yesterday at the Northshore Kiwanis breakfast, which he rarely missed.

Fred had his hands in many pies–he was President of the Northshore Schools Foundation and a member for 14 years, the Northshore Kiwanis (40 years), Northshore Schools Foundation (14 years), PTA, Boy Scouts, Northshore Senior Center, America Cancer Society, GOP District 1, and the Greater Bothell Downtown Association.  The retired Navy veteran was also father to three boys: Kevin, Tim & Dave.

Somewhere back in the days when I was Mr. Bothell, playing on the radio and writing a newspaper column for the Bothell Reporter (then known as The Citizen), Fred and I hooked up.  We didn’t see each other very often, but every seven years or so, he would graciously invite me to join the Northshore Kiwanis for breakfast and to be their guest speaker.

The last invitation and the final time I saw Fred was almost two years ago. I had decided to leave my job at a Seattle area advertising agency and set a departure date–October 1st, 2014. If you need me for anything, catch me by September 30th, because that would be the last time you’d see me working there.

During that farewell month, Fred gave me a call and invited me to come and speak to the Kiwanis gang again. “So, what date you looking at, Fred?”  He replied, “October 1st.” I quickly responded, “Funny, I have absolutely no plans for that day or the days after it! You’re my first commitment!”

While searching my email inbox for old previous exchanges with Fred, I realized he’s one of the people on my Wacky Week email list. Most likely, Fred was probably one of the original subscribers. I have to say, the guy was a fan and liked my style of comedy. I doubt he listened to me much on the radio, but he read my newspaper column religiously. Looking through my book, “Nosin’ Around Northshore: The First Five Years”, I found a great example of how Fred & I shared the same humor gene:

Last week, I told you about some of the more unusual signs spotted around town.

The gang at Hering & Associates Real Estate along Bothell Way decided to get into the spirit of obscure signage. Maybe you noticed it over the weekend. I know I did. On both sides of their reader board, just two words:  “Tim Hunter”.

I thought it was catchy and I sincerely appreciated the honor. But in no way am I going to allow their special attention to affect the high standards I have set for this column. Nice try, Hering & Associates, the home of thoroughly-trained real estate professionals who would love to help you find your next home.

It’s sad when you say goodbye to those characters that make up the fabric of your life. Four years or so from now, the phone won’t ring.  Fred won’t be at the other end, picking up where we last left off.  However, I prefer to look at things from the other side. I realize that I was so fortunate to have met Fred and honored he’d even remember my name. Fred Hering did a lot to make the community he called home a better place and his efforts and smile will be missed. We definitely need more Fred’s in this world.

Tim Hunter

Lost Memory Recovered

payphone

When you think about it, we all experienced thousands–perhaps, millions–of events while we were growing up.  Going from first recollection to fleeing the nest, so much happened.  The older you get, the more the little details slip away and you simply hold on to those big events.

So I was pleasantly surprised by a memory of a little thing brought back this week by my sister Terri. She was the middle one, closest in age to me, so our high school years over-lapped. Terri was chatting with my mom on the phone the other day and she flashed back to the system by which we were picked up from high school, in the days before we could drive.

Apparently, each of us were given a dime. Back then, that was the price of a phone call from a phone booth. Whenever we had an after-school activity like band, a sport, drill team, whatever, we would let mom know approximately what time we might call.  Then, we’d place the dime in the pay phone, rotary dial the number, let it ring three times and then hang up.  That way, mom knew it was time to pick us up and we got our dime back.

A way to beat the system and save a dime.  I would have never remembered that by myself. Just thought I’d share this memory of a little thing from long ago and a much different time.

Tim Hunter                                                                  dime

 

 

 

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME

Bear

You can now rent “The Revenant” and so, in the near future. we’ll make the commitment and plow through that Oscar-winning movie.

My wife, Victoria, and I try to get out and see as many of the Oscar-nominated films before the big night each year, but that one kept getting bumped to the bottom of the list. The next thing we knew, we were just out of time. So we promised ourselves, “We’ll rent it when it comes out on DVD.”
When you wait that long to see a much talked-about movie, you hear things, you read things. SPOILER ALERT—I’m about to talk about what I heard that supposedly happens in the movie. Not necessarily things that do happen, but the rumored plot lines that seeped my way.
When you’re trying to psych yourself up to see a highly-awarded movie, the rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio was raped by a bear, or had to hollow out the guts of a horse to spend a night there (imagine how the horse felt) just made it a little harder to push that button at the Redbox kiosk.
At this point, we still haven’t seen the movie. I know it’s out there. We will rent it eventually. But until that time, when I think of The Revenant, I think of the bear, which takes me back to a week-long vacation when I was five-years-old.

I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb called Torrance, nestled in what they call the South Bay area.  When I was but 5-years-old, my Aunt Colleen, Uncle Chuck and cousin Charlie invited me to come along with them one week to their cabin in the mountains.  The place where it was located? Big Bear Lake.
I have spotty memories of that week, but here are the few things I remember:

  • The cabin they owned was in the mountains a good couple of hours away in a pine-scented neighborhood dotted with other vacation homes. It made you feel like you were a million miles from Torrance.
  • On our way to a fishing trip out on a rented boat, my Uncle Chuck gave Charlie and I some money to buy  drinks at a store for us to enjoy out on the rowboat. I picked out a chocolate milk soda for him because I thought he would like it.  He didn’t.
  • While out on the boat, I honestly don’t remember catching any fish, but I do remember being really hungry.  I decided to try a salmon egg (remember, I was 5) and I ended up eating most of the jar.  My uncle thought it was hilarious.
  • My cousin Charlie and I liked to wander around the woods above the cabin.  At one point, the two of us Einsteins thought it would be a good idea to go deep into the forest and build a fire.  But we weren’t going to take any chances.  We would build it inside a wood box so it wouldn’t spread.  Uh-huh. Fire department came, had to put out a mini-forest fire and, thankfully, we didn’t go to prison.
  • At one point of my first vacation away from mom & dad, my aunt & uncle tried to wear us down by taking us to the local community swimming pool.  There were signs everywhere saying, “Don’t run on the cement.”  A lifeguard yelled at me, “Hey, you—don’t run on the cement.” You know what happened next–I ran on the cement, slipped and went sliding on my side, scraping my left check pretty badly.

I was pretty low key after that—hurt and embarrassed. To make matters worse, a huge scab formed on that cheek. Upon arriving home, my parents were informed I had slipped at the pool and scraped my face. That was pretty much a non-event.  But what would I say to the neighborhood kids?  I can’t tell you how the mind of a 5-year-old works, but my brain decided to tell Glen, Karen, Kelly, and both Mikes that I was attacked by a bear. After all, we were up at Big Bear Lake.  It must have been by a big bear, right?

Did they believe me?  Maybe for a while. Maybe not. I know I tried to sell it.

Doing the math, that incident probably took place during the summer of 1960. Over the years, the scar has faded away and the story went to the back of my brain until The Revenant reminded me of my own personal bear attack.

So I guess Leo and I do actually have something in common—a bear attack that didn’t really happen.  Only he’s the one that gets the Oscar. Yep, kid actors don’t stand a chance.

Tim Hunter

Take Me Out Of The Ball Game

sad baseball

sad baseball

I’m a baseball fan.  This must be understood if anything good is to become of this blog.

Wow, how Dickens!

Seriously, I was raised a baseball fan. The games were on the radio every night at our house. Back then, TV games were a treat and rare.  You either went to the ballpark or listened to Vin Scully & Jerry Doggett call the play-by-play.

I played Little League.  Baseball was the sport and a big part of my life. Other sports weren’t as organized at that time, although I began to dabble in basketball in my later years of adolescence.  But having a team like the L.A. Dodgers as your team, it meant winning and going to the World Series most years. Because they played the Series games during the day back then, teachers would actually bring in a black & white TV with ‘rabbit ears’ so we could watch those historical events.

Fast-forward to present day Seattle.  We have a team called the Seattle Mariners that made a couple of runs over their decades of existence, none ever resulting in a World Series. 1995 was a magical year with miracle wins along the way and a dream team combination of stars and over-achievers.  In 2001, we won an amazing 116 games only to get blown out in the first round of the playoffs.

And that’s been it. Since then, season after season, the routine has become hope that turns to despondence anywhere from April through late-July…and then, it’s football season.  I was thinking about it.  In Seattle, the difference between fans of the football team and the baseball team can be summed up like this: If you’re a Seahawks fan, you go to the Team Store and spend some serious bucks on a jersey.  If you’re a Mariners fan, you take whatever Fred Meyer or Penney’s has on sale and call it good.

Oh, now there are the die-hards who love their Mariners and are getting pretty pissed off at me right now. Tune in any of the home games in the next few weeks and they’re the ones you’ll see sitting down by the field, checking their phones and looking for the fast-forward button for life.  As a baseball fan, it’s hard for me to get excited about this team.  Oh, we have the stars, we just don’t have the leadership or that special “it.”

The “it” is what takes a team like Kansas City from a bunch of rag-tag, dreamy-eyed players to winning the World Series. Last year’s Fall Classic was exactly that.  I’ve had 14 years of post-season baseball to enjoy that didn’t include the Mariners.  Real baseball fans know what I’m talking about. Sure, by then, football is underway, but those final weeks of baseball’s endurance challenge keep me coming back year after year.

Coming back?  Yeah, part of that 14-year history is knowing that, by August, the Mariners are done. By then, I’m no longer checking to see if they won or lose and I’m actually paying more attention to my back-up teams (you need those in Seattle) the Red Sox and the Dodgers. At least one of them usually makes it to the post-season.

Again, the die-hard Mariners fans will call this blasphemy, but I’m just not finding them to be a team I can believe in.  I would LOVE for them to prove me wrong.  I hope they right the ship and get this collection of players to live up to their potential.  But the biggest reason behind my doubt is inspired by the ownership’s decision to name a manager who has never managed a major league team before. Ever.  Or a minor league team, for that matter. It sounds like the plot of a Disney baseball B-picture.  At least in “Damn Yankees”, the guy with no experience had the devil helping him out.

If I accept this, I’d also have to hop on board a 747 with a pilot who has never flown before, or have a surgery performed by a guy who isn’t a doctor, but who has watched every episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Yes, I’m venting.  It’s because I care so much about the game of baseball that I’m sad it’s not taken seriously when you’re lucky enough to have a major league team.  I’m not asking for an immediate championship. Hell, I’m 40 years into this adventure. I’d settle for a competitive team, that shows up and has the desire to win every day.  I’m just not feeling that with this year’s edition of the Seattle Mariners.  At least, not yet.

It was the great Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda who said it best:

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Here’s hoping the Mariners figure out that final third.

It’s early in the season.  I think I’ll wander over and check on soccer for a while.

OK, I’m back. Go Mariners. Please.

Tim Hunter

Being Thankful Is Tricky

Thanksgiving Blog

Thanksgiving Blog

Once again, we’ve reached Thanksgiving Day.

As a kid, Christmas was by far the biggest holiday of the year. Easter would have been second, but it lost out to Halloween because even though both involve lots of candy, you had to get dressed up and go to church on Easter.  Oh, the Easter Bunny tried to compensate for that by bribing us with chocolate replicas of himself.  But with Halloween, you dressed up in a fun costume and then just went out to strangers’ houses and collected candy.  Is this a great country or what?

But, the years roll by and the next thing you know, holidays start coming around faster and faster.  That’s why, in my book, Thanksgiving has risen to the number one spot.  As hard as Christmas tries to overshadow it, Turkey Day remains a no-gift holiday, where you simply gather with friends or family or both and eat way too much. And there’s football on TV, from 9am to 9pm.  It’s like I won the lotto!

And even if my wife manages to sweet-talk our crowd into turning off football and watching the first Christmas movie of the season that day, I’m in!  I have a collection of 15 or so movies that I must see every year, or it’s not Christmas.  Thanksgiving weekend can start with “Miracle on 34th Street” (since it begins with the Thanksgiving Macy’s Day parade), I never get tired of “Plains, Trains and Automobiles”, and then maybe a “Home Alone” or two.

Then I’ve got three weeks to wedge in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Alastair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol”, “One Magic Christmas” and all the other holiday standards. It’s just a great time of year.

The Christmas season officially kicks off big-time the first weekend of December, but I’ll get into that with you next week.  For now and the next 36 hours or so, it’s Thanksgiving.

Being thankful is trickier than it should be.  When you go online and start rambling about all the things you’re thankful for, there’s a chance someone is reading it that isn’t having a great year.  Maybe they lost someone close to them.  And here you are, talking about how much you have to be grateful for–how dare you!

Then, if you don’t say anything, there are those who consider you ungrateful.  “What’s wrong with him?  Had a bad year?” You can’t win.

Thanksgiving began unofficially when people escaping religious persecution risked their lives to travel to a new land. When you go through something traumatic like that, not knowing if you’re going to live or die or what’s on the other side, you tend to get grounded and be appreciative of the basics.

President Lincoln had to deal with a country torn apart. No doubt it was a big part of his push for a national day of Thanksgiving.

Now, here we are in 2015, getting ready to show our thanks in a world gone mad (while the truth is, it’s always been mad. It just comes and goes.)  We have real problems, like what’s going on in Turkey with Russia, ISIS and such.  And then, there are the manufactured problems. As I watch hyper-sensitive revisionists declaring war on things because of their victim mentality, I just shake my head and wonder just how far this PC insanity will go.  In case you didn’t hear, students up at Western Washington University want to get rid of the Viking as their school mascot because he “represents violence”, while students back at Princeton have decided that President Wilson was a racist and so his name should be completely removed from the school.

I grow weary.

I maintain a pretty crazy, on-the-go schedule, but I do keep reminding myself to just take a look around and appreciate all that I have. Not things, but situations.  My marriage, my kids, I have a roof over my head–yeah, I know, there he goes bragging again–but this year, especially, I’m grateful to be able to do what I want to do for a living.  For most of my career, I’ve been in that situation, but with someone occasionally sticking their nose in and telling me how to do it.   Now, I wake up every day, look at a list of projects, tackle the ones I think are the most pressing, watch some TV, go to bed and start all over the next day.

Just a moment ago, while writing this blog, my ventriloquist buddy Mark Merchant called me from Cabo.  He wanted to make sure I got the notes on three upcoming gigs he has.  After this, I’ll sit down, look at the notes and start writing jokes.  Yeah, I get to do that.

A year ago, I rolled the dice and quit a job, hoping it would all work out. It has. I’m grateful for everyone’s support, for the clients that hired me and for every single person I stay in touch with.  If you hear from me during the year via Facebook, email, a phone call or we manage to actually pull off a coffee or lunch, it happens because you are among those I care about.  I appreciate your friendship and right now, would just like to say thanks for being a part of my personal E-ticket ride on this earth.

My  Thanksgiving wish: that everyone reading this blog sits down to a bountiful feast tomorrow, bows their head and quietly sends out a group text to everyone at the table, saying “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Tim Hunter